“Language is, no doubt, made up of lalangue,” said Jacques Lacan, and he seemed to hint at the duality of this “dark precursor” – as a primal language and as a pre-understanding which cannot be completely integrated into the order of signifiers or into meaning itself. The term comes from the definite article la and the word langue (language), and one of its (im)possible translations would be “lalanguage.” Such stammering appears to bend the classical understanding of the systematic and structural nature of language, shaking its otherwise clear boundaries. And from a historical viewpoint, (la)language could refer to the hypotheses on the genesis of human speech: “The first language of the nations was poetic (Prima gentium lingua poetica),” said Giambattista Vico three centuries ago. Even the etymology of the word “barbarian,” which the Hellenes and the Romans used during the classical era, is related to “one who stammers,” bar-baros…
Bulgarian linguist Aleksandar Teodorov-Balan once wrote that the verb is the elephant of Bulgarian grammar. Having seen that such is the case not only with Bulgarian, let us move on to the second word of the phrase, which celebridges lalanguage of the Real, that is, bridges the unconscious infrastructure into a text-speaking strategy, and simultaneously celebrates the ever-elusive object of Desire. In fact, the lowest and greatest common denominator here is James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake, hence the neologism. Briefly, even though formally the book was written in English, it has its own language that combines elements of dozens of other languages, modern and dead, including Bulgarian (toponyms, realia, cultural and historical references). We find an example of the latter in the words of one of the women’s voices, where we could see the twins Shaun and Shem doubling the Slavic brother-saints Cyril and Methodius:
I could love that man like my own ambo for being so baileycliaver though he’s a nawful curillass and I must slav to methodiousness.
Бих обичала този човек като собствения си амвон, затуй че е толкова крепкоумен, ако и да е ужастен кириливец, а трябва да словувам на методийността.
“Joyce is in relation to joy, that is, jouissance, written in lalangue that is English; this en-joycing, this jouissance is the only thing one can get from the text”, says Lacan. He adds this piece of advice: “Read the pages of Finnegans Wake without trying to understand – that reads itself.” We don’t have to heed his advice… So, through the miniature glossolalia*, finally, we come to the opening la, a note to follow so, a note that sets the tone and after which we set our voice, and which we chant, la-la-la, and thus make every passage possible…
* “Glossolalia” is constructed from the Greek word γλωσσολαλία, itself a compound of the words γλῶσσα (glossa), meaning “tongue” or “language” and λαλέω (laleō), “to speak, talk, chat, prattle, or to make a sound.” Wikipedia